Scandal leads House Speaker to call for ethics reform

(WISH Photo, file)

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) – House Speaker Brian Bosma announced his priorities for the 2015 General Assembly Tuesday and ethics reform is one of them.  It’s part of the fallout from the scandal involving State Representative Eric Turner.

Turner, a Cicero Republican, has announced that he will resign his seat before the General Assembly returns but he will still cast a shadow over the 2015 session.

The Speaker has scheduled an unprecedented meeting of the Ethics Committee on October 20th to consider changes.

When Turner lobbied in private for passage of a bill that benefited his family’s nursing home business earlier this year, it prompted an ethics investigation.  That investigation found that he violated no laws.

“Our pledge is to strengthen those disclosure laws,” said Bosma, “increase transparency, and to seek to safeguard the public trust.”

It’s because Turner had over a million dollars at stake in a deal that was announced just a few months after lawmakers went home.

“I learned that there are some areas with the statement of economic interest that we can do better,” said Ethics Committee Chairman Greg Steuerwald. “We can make them more transparent and I think that’s one of the things we’re gonna deal with.”

Turner may also spark changes in the election laws because he will stay on the ballot even though he’s announced plans to resign following the election.

“Hopefully there will be some change in that, some leeway for people who have announced that they are not going to serve after the election to be replaced on the ballot,” said Bosma.  “It would seem to be the fairest to voters.”

The Republican House Speaker pledged that the ethics reform effort will be bi-partisan and Democratic Leader Scott Pelath is on board.

He released a statement applauding the ethic reform elements of the GOP proposal.

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